Advice Dissent

Plugging In

Your August article on electric vehicles (Cover Story, July/August 1994) is too quick to dismiss the danger that, as the article states, “EVs may only trade one polluting energy source for another. “Under good conditions, a common stationary steam power plant may – even allowing for transmission and conversion lesses – generate less air pollution than a vehicle’s internal combustion (IC) engine. But there is a catch. The EV, being heavier than the IC-powered vehicle, demands more power. If the added battey weight of an EV brings its curbside weight to one-third more (a conservative estimate) than that of a comparable IC vehicle, then inevitably the EV will require one-third more power to provice equal preformance. The significant question then becomes: Can the stationary power plant produce the additional power and still pollute less than the engine in my car?

What’s more, many power plants burn fuel that adds to acid rain and creates a fly-ash disposal problem. Also, the heavier EVs suffer from shorter tire life, not only worsening another waste disposal problem, but consuming more resources to produce additional tires as well.

Electricity is better analyzed as a way to trasmit and store power than as a radically different kind of power.

Herschel Smith
Milford, CT